We speak to Jamie Lundy, the award-winning engineer at the creative helm of 7L (SEVEN LAYER), about his AW20 ORIGINS collection.
It all started in Manchester for the innovative head of luxury outerwear specialists 7L, Jamie Lundy. Born in Stockport, an affinity for the vibrant Northern city has coloured everything he’s done in life, whether it be snagging awards for his forward-thinking engineering work, or taking over the most technically advanced luxury brand in the UK.
The label’s name takes after its own unique SEVEN layers (7L) System, that allows for the wearer to layer up or down dependent on the surrounding environmental conditions. Think the US’ Military’s own Generation III Extended Climate Weather Clothing System (ECWCS), from which they took immense inspiration, but made heaps more fashionable.
Lundy spent three intense years restructuring the brand, putting his wide-spanning creative skill-set and unrivalled attention to detail to the test as he forges the path for 7L’s future. As he sees it, the entrepreneur-turned-designer wants 7L to grow organically with the heritage of its military design, a consistent factor to ensure innovation of his fabrics and elements of design that are integral for any brands’ longevity.
We caught up with the new kid on Manchester’s fashion block below, digging deep into Lundy’s creative outlook and the brand’s upcoming ORIGIN collection. Take a look…
Hi Jamie, how has lockdown been for you? Has the experience changed your outlook on work/life/your creativity?
Hi, pleasure talking to you. I think the pandemic has made us all re-evaluate and think about what’s most important to us and that’s of course family and friends and being healthy. In terms of work/life balance I’m always busy and that hasn’t changed, but I think all brands need to understand and be aware of how the landscape is changing, and has changed forever potentially due to COVID. As a team we have been working tirelessly on the new SEVEN LAYER ORIGIN collection that we launch this month. I’m proud of what we have achieved and it has been so well received already.
In terms of creativity, I would like to think that my attention to detail, evolved from many years as a design engineer, has continued and the passion I have with the team keeps us motivated and excited to achieve the goals we have.
How do you think 7L has grown since you took the reigns?
The idea was to understand the business and how I could build a team from the start that believed in the same values – design, function and simplicity, no hidden agendas and honest, well thought-out product. So it was about re-adjusting and tweaking something rather than changing something bad, which wasn’t the case. This first collection is the vision and we go onward. What you will see is beautifully made garments that carry a clear and understandable narrative about functionality and performance with a very natural style – prime territory for the connoisseurs of outerwear.
What were your first goals for the label?
I want the brand to stay true to what I believe in. It’s easier said than done. Initial thoughts and creativity can often be compromised along the way for various reasons, so it’s fundamentally important to stick and stay to true to what you’re trying to achieve. Honesty, technical-detailing, function, innovation and style are all values captured in every garment and in every partnership we undertake. Yes, there are learning curves, but our goal of making people sit up to think ‘Holy shit, who are these people’ is alive and kicking throughout the launch collection.
Why is the Made in England craftsmanship aspect so important to you (particularly looking at Manchester manufacturing and the talent coming from up north)?
This country and especially the North West and Manchester was synonymous with manufacturing yesteryear, you just have to visit the countless mills around this part of the country and further afield. The craftsmanship of this country was and still is highly respected the world over and it’s important for us to try to drive a new wave of that by not only supporting the industry but creating the finest garments, which we can here, for the 7L label. Our T-shirts and sweatshirts that we have made with English Fine Cotton with state-of-the-art machinery at the Dukinfiled Mill are the first made here in Manchester for more than 50 years.
And the brand new ORIGIN collection is going live in September – what is the aspect you’re most excited about?
It has to be the anticipation of how the consumer and those interested enough to take a look will receive the garments and the collection as a whole. We are very proud of it, it has numerous pull out pieces and stories around those pieces to tell and its just an exciting moment in time for us, especially after all the hard work and nervousness of the past few months.
How did you go about sourcing your manufacturers and collaborators?
Research, hard work and lots of travelling around the world banging on peoples doors (not quite literally). We started with a very small supply chain and evolved it from there. I’m old school and still love face-to-face meetings, so once I was given the opportunity to present the brand to new or larger suppliers (Schoeller etc…), potential manufacturers and other brands (ArkAir & English Fine Cottons) they could see the longevity and purpose to what 7L was trying to achieve. My extensive experience in supply chain management and manufacturing in engineering obviously helped too.
What is your favourite piece from the forthcoming drop?
Ha ha ha! I can’t pinpoint a particular piece, that would be wrong of me. I can say that we have a collection that is interesting, impactful and bursting with quality throughout the seven-layered system. From the base layer T’s and sweats mentioned in partnership with EFC through to the ArkAir Field Parka in night camo print, through to the bold orange Half-Zip Smock, stretch Travel Over-shirt and the Modula Down Jacket. There’s so much to get into which, for an entire collection feels amazing. No weak links.
Why do you think sustainability is becoming increasingly “cool”, especially amongst younger shoppers?
I honestly don’t think it has become increasingly ‘cool’ I think that younger people are savvier about the environment and about how to care for it. The knowledge and access to information is more readily available and terms like ‘fast fashion’ are widely used and understood. I think there is an element of feeling ‘cooler’ because you are ‘fitting in’ to a criteria that has become more fashion-led and focussed perhaps, but generally I think we are all understanding that we need to be thinking more about the environment and from a brand owner’s perspective, how we are responsible for implementing channels that are more sustainable and friendly.
What do you think ushered in this renaissance of outerwear brands going from nerdy or functional to becoming the “thing to wear” – and where do you think 7L sits amongst this?
That’s a really interesting point. I’m a Manchester lad and remember the renaissance of outerwear becoming the ‘thing to wear’ during the Nineties. It was basically the likes of The Charlatans and then OASIS and the football terraces that brought in this kind of New Model Army of big coat wearing Northerners – it was all about the shoes and the coats.
The Anorak brigade became cool when the likes of Blur were wearing them on stage and the rise of Oi Polo and the Hipster movement alongside the more stylised outwear of CP and Stone Island on the flip-side of that coin. Then it became more about ‘the look’ than function. i.e you don’t need to wear your coat or your anorak when it’s wet or cold.
The evolution of that now sees consumers more savvy and interested/critical in garments that don’t serve a purpose or enable a function alongside style. Lifestyles have changed, the climate has changed. How many times do you now put on a rain mac and sweat but you need it because it’s raining? SEVEN LAYER is at the forefront of providing functional garments with a fashionable appearance.
What’s next for you? What are you excited about in 2020?
Well let’s not forget that this is a year that we probably all want to forget, but the flip side to that is I think we’ve all learnt valuable lessons. The way we treat or interact with family, friends and the local community, the way we work and the importance of mental wellbeing. We almost went back to basics playing board games, card games and just talking. How many of us will continue to do that when we get back to normal and what is ‘normal’? Sometimes less is more. Quality over quantity.
In many ways, the pandemic has not just shifted my creative process and my engineered approach to design, but also the way I’m thinking, questioning what’s actually important to us and what’s important to the way we want to live. Keeping fit, walking, trekking, work. It’s all about balance. Whether that’s at home, work or in a functional garment. Taking all of that and putting it into our design is what we strive to do, creating something beautiful, yet functional and purposeful.
In terms of Autumn Winter 20, we are excited to now let the ORIGIN Collection do its job to put SEVEN LAYER on the map and to raise our profile, but the really big news is that we are launching our flagship store in Alderley Edge, Cheshire this November, so stay tuned for that one.